The Battle for Spain

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Recently completed this excellent account by Antony Beevor.  A truly and amazingly complex conflict, one that was so tragic and brutal, and one that had long-lasting impacts for the world (and for Spaniards, of course).  What began as a revolt of the generals, turned to a civil war, and then to a proxy war between the totalitarian powers.  In so many cases, firing squads and firing squads.

I had wanted to find an objective, ‘what caused it and what happened and what were the impacts’ type book, along the lines of McPherson’s “Battle Cry of Freedom” which tackled the US Civil War, and this came highly recommended (and it did not disappoint).

Certainly, Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia” (which every human should read, and which I must re-read) spelled out the Moscow take-over of the republican side, but Beevor really tells the tale here.  But also the Nazi and fascist support for the nationalist side.  In an odd twist, I didn’t know Göring was running arms to the republicans throughout the war!

But within and beyond the outside forces, the battle within Spain by so many disparate groups who tried to form an allied front, particularly the republicans.  It gets confusing, with the various anarchist and socialist groups vying for power, not to mention the involvement of the International Brigades, but Beevor handles it well.  Some sympathetic, others most certainly not.

Still, as it’s been said, the Spanish Civil War was perhaps the only conflict where the history was written by the losers.  Certainly, life after the war in Franco’s Spain was tightly controlled and not about to tell its tale.  So, it’s important to sit back and take an objective look at what happened.  Lots of interesting stuff here, including information the Beevor has uncovered from archives in Moscow.

Anyway, put it on your “to-read” list.  One of the better history books I’ve read.  Some reviews at the London Book Reviewthe Guardian, and the Sydney Morning Herald.

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